Acura ILX Hybrid a Smart Choice for Entry-Level Luxury Buyers

The 2013 ILX Hybrid is an important car for Acura. As the automaker’s first-ever hybrid, it signals an intent to go the way of luxury competitors like Lexus, which has been integrating gasoline-electric hybrid drive into its models for years now, or Infiniti, which has also entered the market with its M Hybrid. Plus, there’s the imperative to attract first-time luxury buyers to the Acura fold, and is there any more powerful way to do this than with energy efficient, environmentally-conscious hybrid?

There’s plenty of advanced technology to draw upon from the Honda camp, and this is just what Acura has done. The Acura ILX is built on the Honda Civic platform, so use of the Civic Hybrid’s 1.5-liter engine, integrated Motor Assist (IMA) electric motor, and continuously Variable transmission (CVT) powertrain is a natural.

In this application changes are made in engine/motor control to provide a driving experience more in tune with that expected by luxury buyers. EPA estimates ILX Hybrid fuel efficiency at 39 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. Conventionally-powered ILX variants with 2.0- and 2.4-liter engines achieve 24/35 and 23/31 city/highway mpg, respectively.

There are some important differentiators between the ILX and the Civic, as one would expect of an upscale luxury model. The ILX is slightly longer, wider, and lower than the Civic with a sleeker and more aerodynamic design. It also features standard foglights and a rear decklid spoiler.

Its well-appointed interior is sportier than that of the Civic and offers smart-looking instrumentation, a multi-information display, Pandora internet radio interface, a USB port, and an SMS text messaging function. A keyless access system with pushbutton start are standard fare. The cabin is also better isolated from the noisy world outside with thicker window glass, improved insulating materials, and more luxuriously tuned suspension.

Stepping up to the model’s Technology Package adds in a host of desirable features including navigation with AcuraLink real-time traffic functionality and traffic rerouting, a nod to increasing driving efficiency that can save time and conserve fuel. Cabin sounds also improve with a 10 speaker, 415-watt ELS surround sound system featuring XM Radio, CD, DVD-Audio, MP3, DTS player, and 15GB HDD media storage. A HomeLink programmable transmitter is also part of the package.

The five-passenger ILX Hybrid has an MSRP of $28,900, which presents a reasonable gateway to the premium Acura brand. The Technology Package adds $5,500 to the purchase price.

With the greatest growth in the luxury market expected to be with entry-level products, it’s an imperative for Acura to come up with aspirational models that speak to the upscale desires of a new breed of luxury buyers who place value, styling, and environmental responsibility at the top their priorities. We believe they’ve done just that.